The answer is “YES – all the time!” It seems to be that way for a reason. If we only do what we think we can do on our own, what do we need God for? If we function according to our own ability alone, we get the glory; but if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, we give God the glory.
God wants to work with us. God wants to be in relationship with us. God wants to teach us to trust Him. God wants us to know and experience how His power functions in and through our lives. God wants us to be people of faith.
When God asks us to do something we can’t do on our own, and then when we rely on and trust God, and when He does that impossible thing through us – that’s when we get a rich and deeply satisfying taste of abundant life! Some call it “the miracle of faith,” but in reality we know that when God does those impossible things through us, it isn’t unexpected at all! That’s just who God is.
Here’s something else to ponder: Thomas Merton, the American monk, pointed out that we may spend our whole life climbing the ladder of success, only to find when we get to the top that our ladder is leaning against the wrong wall! How true!
The apostle Paul says that we can’t totally avoid sin and mistakes (Romans 5:12 “all have sinned”) but if we try too hard to be perfect, it often creates even worse problems for ourselves. Jesus loves to tell stories like those of the publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14) and the famous one about the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), in which one character does his life totally right, and is in fact, wrong (his ladder is on the wrong wall); and the other who does it totally wrong ends up as God’s beloved! Wow! What message is He trying to get through to us in those stories?
Jesus also tells us that there are two groups who are very good at trying to deny or avoid the painful truth that those who think they are doing it correctly are in fact wrong: those who are very “rich” and those who are very “religious.” These two groups have very different plans for themselves, as they try to steer their own ships to well-chosen objectives. They follow two different paths to climb the ladder of success – but their ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.
So….what wall is your ladder leaning against as you struggle to climb to the top?
-Rev. John Wilson
Rev. Wilson writes a weekly reflection for everyone to read. If you would like to receive these message via email, sign up for our email list.